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Piloting Toward a Bright Future in Boise

12/15/2016, 9:15am MST
By Jayson Hron - USA Hockey

Hockey carried Kory Scoran from his Canadian prairie home to Michigan’s Soo Locks and then to Idaho, where he embarked on a seven-season professional playing career.

After a stopover in Holland and a stint in Kansas, his heart – and his future wife – remained in Boise, so it was no surprise when the 6-foot-3 defenseman played his final ECHL season with the Steelheads and then made his home in Boise.

He’s been at Idaho IceWorld ever since, building a model municipal youth hockey program and helping the community’s travel hockey leaders bridge differences that fragmented Boise’s talent pool for years. Now, with the travel teams consolidated and Boise’s in-house program thriving, the community’s hockey future looks bright.

“The overall culture has improved and we’re continuing to work toward becoming one cohesive unit working together,” said Scoran. “Realistically, Boise’s youth hockey population was too small for three programs. We were all fighting for the same players, which was detrimental to hockey in our town. So now we have better communication, better scheduling and an overall strengthening of youth hockey in Boise.”

Flying under the Ice Pilots banner, Scoran’s municipal program now includes a learn-to-play offering along with in-house 8U, 10U and 12U teams. Games are played cross-ice at 8U, half-ice at 10U and full-ice at 12U and beyond, which includes a non-checking 18U option and a full-checking high school team.

A two-way defenseman during his playing days, Scoran, 35, helps coach at every level, emphasizing fun, engagement and skill development.

“When I retired from playing, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about coaching, and I didn’t realize that it would be so rewarding,” said the 2007 Kelly Cup champion.

Scoran credits USA Hockey’s American Development Model for helping ease his transition from player to coach and director.

“I love the ADM,” he said. “It’s awesome. I see the benefits in our kids daily, both in terms of their skill development and in player retention. The kids love it. The parents love it. Now it’s just the norm.”

The Ice Pilots’ participation and retention numbers help quantify Boise’s building momentum. Scoran’s learn-to-play program is thriving and the 12U program doubled in size from 2013 to 2016, indicating strength at an age classification that formerly displayed a higher attrition rate. At the oldest end of the spectrum, 18U numbers are also rising. Scoran credits the city for helping spur overall growth.

“The City of Boise Parks and Recreation does an unbelievable job with our scholarship program and making hockey affordable for families,” he said.

The emphasis on skill development has also played a leading role, thanks to a growing stable of outstanding coaches and volunteers.

“We now have a paid staff coach at every level, which allows me to jump on the practice ice with every group at any station, and we also have a goalie coach who works with kids during practice each week,” said Scoran.

The result has been a boon in Boise, with a solidified development ladder and new generation of talent finding a hockey home in the Treasure Valley.

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